We used to do a lot together…. Go on hikes, picnics, take in movies, explore new places, hold hands, cuddle up together…... Once baby came, there suddenly became less time for us. Even as baby has grown, between diaper changing, meal planning, play dates, shopping, working and just everyday life of being a parent, there just are NOT enough hours in the day. I deeply miss the days of having “couple”time, those carefree days when we discussed worldly topics and bantered back and forth about politics, life, the
cosmos. I miss the little things of being snuggled at night and as high school as it is… hand holding. Now (on both sides) it goes more like this: “I’m too tired to ________ (watch a movie, have sex, cuddle, etc, insert your choice here)”.
Let me let you in on a little secret though….. I am NOT alone! I have talked with many fellow moms and friends in hushed tones about this very topic. And not surprisingly, we all say the same type of thing. We all get irritated by the same things, we all had a change in our communication post children, we all missed the old days.
“Even the best relationships are strained during the transition from duo to trio (or more!). Lack of sleep, never-ending housework and new fiscal concerns can lead to profound stress and a decline in marital satisfaction - all of which affect baby’s care. Not surprisingly, 70% of couples in their transition to parenthood
experience conflict, disappointment and hurt feelings.” ~ Dr. John Gottman. Dr. Gottman has done extensive studies on relationships in general and relationships post children. I highly recommend bookmarking his blog and checking it out when you can: http://www.gottmanblog.com/
It started out slowly, we were just sleep deprived and had less time for each other as most of the time focused on the new addition and how to create stability for that addition. Slowly little things went by the wayside, slowly new things irritated us about the other, slowly little things became new habits, and new habits slowly changed the dynamic of our relationship to where today, it is barely recognizable from when we started out. What happened to those two happy people?
We were fortunate enough early on to be recommended to an amazing class pre-baby through Falmouth Hospital. The Bringing Baby Home Series (see Dr. Gottman's blog and website for more info on this class) facilitated by Lee Burwell was beyond amazing. The 4 class series had great information, we met another great couple and we came home armed with tools for success. Unfortunately for us though, life got in the way of remembering to use those tools. It had all seemed so easy in class, but real life is NEVER easy. We recognized this problem and discussed options such as….. gasp….. counseling.
Relationship Counseling seems to be a taboo topic for many couples. I have heard people who think that it means “the beginning of the end”, “a last resort”, and even comments like “how would a stranger help us if we can’t help us”. Men especially seem to be afraid of seeking help. I’m not sure if this is a pride thing or not but for us it became about something more important than our pride, it was about our family. We braved the counseling and learned a lot about each other from our sessions. Counseling is definitely not at all what society thinks. Many couples have problems in their relationships, it is going to happen. You can’t expect to agree on everything in life. You have 2 different people who were raised with 2 different families, and 2 sets of life experiences. So of course you are going to get 2 sets of opinions on everything and they will NOT always be the same. Relationships take compromise and you have to invest the time in them, they take WORK. We are always making concessions on things in order to work together, but sometimes there are
things where you differ that can build obstacles in the way of your relationship and communication.
We learned that it was important to have “couple” time and to have date nights again. We also learned that we both communicate very differently, which was hindering our relationship because we were not effectively “hearing” one another and we did not understand one another’s dreams. It is okay to have a different viewpoint then your significant other, but if you can’t be open to each other’s differences you will have problems. This breakdown in communication leads to a breakdown in intimacy. And ultimately a breakdown in intimacy can eventually lead to a complete breakdown in the relationship.
The current divorce rate in the US is 50%. Of course that doesn’t even figure in the separation rate between couples who are not married. I would guess the number is probably much higher if you factor that in. What has led to this breakdown? The answer is that outside stressors have caused communication breakdowns.
People are afraid to seek help and guidance. I speak from experience when I say it really helps to have a third party to talk to. The third party is able to help you see why you are having trouble. Many times we are to close to the situation and need someone who is completely impartial to help us understand.
When children enter into a relationship, everything changes. It is important that even if your relationship does not work to where you can have a typical nuclear family unit that you still learn to communicate
effectively for the sake of the children. There are many co-parenting families out there who make it work, but unfortunately the majority of those couples still don’t because of resentment, immaturity with the situation and other obstacles. It is our job as parents to show our children how to be healthy adults and they will practice what they have seen.
What kind of partner do you want your child to be someday? Right now at the current trend in the US, this generation of children will not have had healthy examples of relationships. What kind of adults will these children grow up to be? Will they take the easy way out when things get tough or will they fight to save a relationship even if it means seeking help? It is up this generation of mothers and fathers to correct this upward trend and to model the best for our children. I would hate to live in a world where negative relationships with couples become the norm. It is okay to ask for help, it is okay that you disagree on things, it is important to fight for your relationship until you have exhausted every option; it is okay to ask for help when you are in a co-parenting situation even if it means you are the only one seeking the help….. You are NOT alone.
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parent support group to join together. You may be surprised at just how many couples are in the same exact boat as you are. I wish you all the best of luck in your relationships, whatever state they are in and hope you all are able to communicate effectively.
*** Cape Cod Mommies is currently seeking a professional advisor for our blog who is a licensed family/marital counselor who can blog on a wide variety of topics and how it pertains to our parents.
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*** This opportunity above did not influece the author of this blog piece in any way. Thoughts of the preceding blog piec were the author's own and in no way was she compensated for them.
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